Yesterday’s gospel reading (Mark 1:1 – 8) begins with the bold statement that Christ is “a good news” story. Mark declares Jesus as the Messiah, the anointed one and the leader of the nation, but Jesus is no mere mortal. He is the son of God. So Mark’s opening premise is that God entered human history to claim the world from the devil and to lead his people to salvation.
Mark then immediately introduces John the Baptist and identifies the forerunner as ” a voice of one calling in the wilderness: prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.” In this way the Baptist becomes not only messenger but also signpost pointing to the eschatological reality that the promise of the Messiah has been fulfilled in Christ Jesus and there is no more waiting, for, the coming one has indeed arrived.
The Baptist prepared the way by preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. In this way he becomes the link between the Old Testament and the New Testament. He stands and exhorts people to repent their sins and he does so in expectation that they, having been relieved of their distress, will be able to participate in the kingdom of God which is yet to come because Christ has yet to reveal himself.
Notice his message: “after me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.” There you have the abject humility of the forerunner who at the apogee of his powers declares in effect that he is the signpost only to point the way to the true Messiah. Notice further: “I baptise you with water, but He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.” There you have the unambiguous truth with clarity – the baptism of the forerunner is merely a pre-figurement and shadow of the rich abundance that is manifested by the Holy Spirit. The baptism of water washes away sins whereas the baptism of the Holy Spirit transfigures the man. It is this Holy Spirit that is now, through Christ, made manifest in the world for you and me. Great news indeed!
Around our church
The programme for this week is as follows:
- Wednesday (epiphany Eve – and fasting day) matins, Royal Hours, Festival divine liturgy and great blessing of the waters (6 AM – 10:30 AM)
- Thursday, holy epiphany, matins, divine liturgy and great blessing of the waters (7:30 AM 11 AM)
- Friday: Synaxis of St John the forerunner matins and divine liturgy (7: 30 a.m. – 10:30 AM)
- Saturday divine liturgy in English 9 AM 10:15 AM.
If you wish a house blessing please send me your contact details by email as soon as possible.
Do not forget to put your name down for our flower roster.
Archdiocesan dates to remember:
- Tuesday: cutting of Vasilopita;
- Friday: feast day celebrations the holy Monastery of St John;
- Sunday epiphany celebrations at Matilda Bay;
- Saturday, 15 January forthcoming ordination. See attachment for all details.
Our church needs assistance in relation to the purchase of certain items. Please refer to attachment for details.
Do not forget to tune into “The of Orthodoxy” on six EBA FM each Tuesday from 5 PM to 6 PM. Also, tune into the divine liturgy on the same station each Thursday from 1:30 PM to 3 PM (English) and from 4:30 PM to 6 PM (Greek) recorded at St Nektarios.
Thought of the week
The new calendar year is generally the time when resolutions are made for the coming year – so, here goes: I will starve my pride, arrogance, self-reliance and self-centredness. I will feed so as to grow humility, brokenness, reliance upon God and generosity to the other. I pray that I maintain my joy, my faithfulness and kindness. Will I succeed? Probably not – but I take comfort in the proposition that Christ honours the intention is much as the act. As St John Chrysostom says in his Paschal homily read during the Orthos of Pascha: that God “accepts both the deeds and welcomes intention, and honours the act and praises the offering”. You see there is hope for us all.
Till next time.
Father John Athanasiou 0411 061 554